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OAK@TB: Odorizzi fans eight over 4 2/3 innings

ST. PETERSBURG -- How low can they go?

The Rays took their third consecutive defeat in a 3-0 loss to the A's Tuesday night at Tropicana Field. And the question continues to be relevant.

"For me, never say it can't get any worse, because whenever you utter those words, you're going to find it out," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "So you're never going to hear those words come out of my mouth.

"I'm always looking for it to turn. I'm looking more for the turning point. The philosophy, idea, the theory that I've always gone by is, 'every day counts.' You never know how close you are to turning the negative momentum back to positive. That's the way I approach every day."

The Rays are eight games under .500 and desperately searching to find a magical elixir that can resurrect their 2014 season. The team has not been eight games under .500 since finishing the 2007 season with a 66-96 record in its final season as the Devil Rays.

"Tomorrow could be the first day of an extended winning streak," Maddon said. "But you have to win tonight's game. You have to win one at a time. I didn't realize that statistical component from 2007. It's really no fun. We'll get it back together."

After a day off, the Rays entered the game with a rested bullpen, a hot pitcher on the mound and a dormant offense that hasn't carried its weight to date.

Odorizzi had not allowed a run over his last two starts, striking out 18 in 11 innings. May 14 in Seattle he allowed just one hit in six innings en route to his second win of the season. Thus, expectations were high for the 24-year-old right-hander.

Odorizzi experienced a first-inning jam when Coco Crisp doubled and reached third with one out. He escaped by retiring Brandon Moss on a shallow fly to left before striking out Yoenis Cespedes swinging.

The second brought another story when Derek Norris walked with one out. One out later, Eric Sogard singled to right to set the table for Crisp, who doubled home both runners. Former Ray John Jaso singled to left to score Crisp and give the A's a 3-0 lead.

Odorizzi didn't appear fazed when he returned to pitch the third and struck out the side. He might have gone six or seven innings had he been able to bypass the fourth, a 40-pitch inning that included a 14-pitch at-bat by Norris.

The fourth inning "felt like an eternity," Odorizzi said. "Norris' at-bat, that felt like it was never going to end, honestly. It was: Make a good pitch, he'd foul it off. Make a good pitch, foul it off. He'd lay off something close, not chase something."

Odorizzi reached a career-high 113 pitches when he walked Cespedes with two outs in the fifth. Cesar Ramos, who just re-joined the bullpen, retired Josh Reddick to end the inning.

Ramos, Juan Carlos Oviedo, Brad Boxberger and Josh Lueke covered the final 4 1/3 innings, keeping the score at 3-0 to give the Rays a chance for a comeback, albeit an improbable one with the way the hitters are performing.

The offense mustered just four hits on the evening, and they were shut down by A's starter Drew Pomeranz (4-1, 0.94 ERA), who pitched five innings of shutout baseball for the third straight game.

The Rays threatened twice -- they had the bases loaded with one out in the third inning and runners on first and third with one out in the eighth -- but both times Desmond Jennings grounded into inning-ending double plays. Jose Molina grounded into a double play to end the fifth.

"Five and dive, three times in a row," Pomeranz said. "Those double-play balls were huge to get out of the [third and fifth] innings. You're just trying to get a ground ball right there to do exactly that."

It was Jennings' first game back in the starting lineup after missing two games on the bereavement list.

"The double play has not been our friend," Maddon said. "We've hit into too many double plays. Especially with Desmond, a really fast runner, you don't expect that. From 3-0 with the bases loaded to the inning over on a very close play at first base. We just have to continue to work at it."

The Rays were shut out for the second time in three games and the fifth time this season. They have scored in only one of their last 28 innings.

"We're just not putting them ... hitting them when we want them, I guess," said James Loney. "... From what I see, everybody's fine. I don't think I see anybody crying in a corner or anything like that."

True to form, Maddon remains optimistic.

"It just takes one good inning, a couple of knocks," Maddon said. "A couple of well-placed balls, a couple of runs. To get on top would be important, too."

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